This vast space of ice and rock captivates the imagination of many a visitor, perched as it is atop the Bernese Alps with views that extend as far as France, Germany and Italy.
The Jungfraujoch is the name given to the col that connects the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrai trio (Ogre, Monk and Maiden), although the name is also given to the area that holds the mountains and the Aletsch Glacier (the Unesco World Heritage listed Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area). The actual col is at 3471m (11,388ft) and the Jungfraujoch station, just nearby, is at 3454m (11332ft), making it Europe’s highest, and hence frequently referred to as ‘the top of Europe’.
The only way to get to the Jungfraujoch is by the famous Jungfraubahn (Jungfrau Railway, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2012) for 9km (5.6mi) from Kleine Scheidegg, having usually first traveled on the Wengernalpbahn, which connects Jungfrau villages Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen with Kleine Scheidegg via Wengen.
The 1000m-gauge cogwheel railway itself is mostly (7km, 4.4mi) tunnel hewn from the Eiger and Mönch mountains to the Jungfraujoch, passing through the Eigerwand and Eismeer stations.
Upon arriving at the station, passengers disembark to make their way (via elevator) to the top of the Sphinx (3571m, 11,716ft), a scientific observatory just east of the col and has a viewing platform (frequently crowded but with incredible views on a good day). There’s also a range of very touristy businesses when you first leave the train, selling souvenirs, snacks and the like.
There’s no doubting that it’s a very expensive (an extortionate CHF200 return for an adult) outing (although there are reductions for Swiss Pass holders and the like), so you must make sure the weather will be worth it for the time of day you’re planning to visit (early mornings are best). Low visibility and the presence of clouds will make it hard to justify the expense: check the weather at your hotel or online via the webcams installed at the top. Pack warm clothes too, plus sunblock and sunglasses.